YourTango blogger Tara Kennedy-Kline published a pointed piece this week in which she heavily criticizes what she believes is a deluded modern feminist movement. Kennedy-Kline says the movement used to be about empowering women and gender equality, but has devolved into an effort to shame men and suppress masculinity.
“I'm a wife, mother, sister, daughter, business owner, sports nut and beer lover, but I am not a feminist,” she writes. “I may have been at one time, but then I became the mother of two boys and I realized that I cannot align with a message that has changed into something degrading, offensive, accusatory and opposed to the morals and messages I am teaching my kids.”
She goes on to list a number of things she wants her sons to do that she believes the modern feminist movement says are wrong. She wants them to open doors for women, to carry heavy loads for them, to pay for dinner on dates, and to tell women they're beautiful, for example. The modern feminist movement, she thinks, tells men not to do these things.
“But, the latest campaigns by the feminist movement are telling boys they are wrong if they do these things, or anything else that would make a girl feel stereotypically ‘girly,’ or my sons to act stereotypically ‘gentleman-like,’” she argues. “The FCKH8 Campaign would have girls tell my sons to ‘f*ck off’ if they called them pretty or reached for their hand without permission.
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“Hollaback! sends the message that if my sons make eye contact with, or say ‘hello’ to, a woman they don't know, they are a predator, or at the very least, a ‘creepy douchebag.’ #YesAllWomen wants my boys to know that the fact they have a penis makes them a threat. They cite the statistic that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted, but seem to ignore that they are sending the message to little girls to assume 100% of all men are rapists.”
She proceeds to list a few more examples, but the main message she’s getting at is this:
“When the term feminism turned from being a message of empowerment and gender fairness to basically a list of rules, restrictions, idiosyncrasies, offenses and grievances directed at all things male, I tapped-out.”
While she makes some valid points, and surely there will be many who are quick to agree with her, it’s worth noting that the campaigns she criticizes are not sending as black and white of a message as she portrays them to. These campaigns aren’t saying that it’s always bad to tell a woman she’s beautiful, that any man who makes eye contact with a woman is a ‘creepy douchebag’ or that it’s always bad to grab a girl's hand without asking. Instead, and there's a key difference here, these campaigns seek to stamp out these behaviors when they are unwanted.
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Also, it's worth noting that stating a statistic - like that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted - is not sending a message that "all men are rapists," because facts do not within themselves contain any biased connotations or implications. They are only what they are - cold, hard facts.
No one would tell a man that it’s wrong to take a chance and grab a mutual crush’s hand without asking. They also wouldn’t say it’s wrong to meet a woman, strike up a conversation, and, if the interest seems mutual, compliment her appearance. What these campaigns would say is wrong, though, is to approach a woman in a bar, grab her hand, tell her she’s beautiful and put a drink in her face before you even have a clue if she wants to talk to you.